"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

John 10:10




Thursday, January 30, 2014

January 30, 2014

I called my Grandma today.  It is a joy to speak with her.  Every time I talk with her she tells me how much she loves me, and that she prays for our family everyday.  I know that she does.  I'm certain that my simple 10 minute call to her made her day, as it did mine.  I'm always glad I called her.  It is never a waste of time.  I need to call her more.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January 29, 2014

Anna is reading proficiently.  Yea!  We went to the library today and got her stocked with some Amelia Bedelia, and Henry and Mudge.  Watching your child take off with reading is one of the highlights of life.

Lydia visited the orthodontist today for step 2 towards getting her expander and braces.  Next Wednesday is the big day.  She has been very brave, and actually excited about the prospect.  I took her out to Red Robin for lunch today because I feel bad.  She doesn't know what's coming.  It seems like we are entering big kid world with braces on the horizon.  


I informed Cora that she will be doing kindergarten next year.  She looked a little shocked.  



Today was a good food day.  For breakfast we had pancake sausage muffins.  Madeline and I worked on a double batch last night, to put in the freezer and eat for today.  They are a big hit!  The recipe is from the Heavenly Homemakers blog.  Lunch was Red Robin.  For supper we had stromboli.  This is the second time I've made this, and it is officially in the supper rotation now.  I use frozen bread dough from HyVee.  Let it thaw and rise through the day.  Then roll it out.  On half put pepperoni, sliced ham, whatever other leftover meat you have such as ground pork or beef, cheddar cheese, and mozzarella cheese.  Fold the other half over so it makes an enclosed sandwich.  Bake.  Everyone loves it, and that is cause for celebration.  


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January 28, 2014

Service is a topic that rattles around in my head quite frequently.  I often wonder what we can do as a family to serve others, bringing the love of Christ to the world.  I have come to the realization that my primary service is to my family, which is no small calling even if it seems to be limited inside the walls of our home.  In a world that screams to "do more" I believe that where we are at right now cries out for a "no."  This is difficult for me, a doer.  While we have grand dreams for serving more at some point in life, I am assured that our family is using our gifts in beneficial ways right now.  We are raising little souls for His glory, opening up our home and oven in hospitality, and providing opportunities for further education with other homeschoolers.

Today we did have a unique opportunity to serve as a family.  A friend and her family toured a homeless shelter here in town a while back.  As they were driving home and talking about what they witnessed, one of her children asked if the kids at the shelter get a birthday cake on their birthday.  (Hmm... innocent question but telling in what is important to a child.)  She said she didn't know, but would find out.  That started the ball rolling for their birthday cake ministry.  She gets a list of all the kids at the shelter for the coming month, with their gender and birthdate listed.  Then her family bakes and decorates a cake to deliver to the mission on said birthday.  This has turned in to quite an undertaking and kept them very busy.  She asked a couple more families if they'd be interested in helping out when they need backup.  Yes, we would!  We contributed our second cake today.  Madeline loves to bake, so she baked up the cake, whipped up some frosting, and we all decorated.  Include a birthday card with an encouraging message, and we have hopefully helped make someone who is going through a hard time day's a little brighter.  


Monday, January 27, 2014

January 27, 2014

The girls' personalities really come out when practicing piano.

Madeline practices what she is suppose to, without needing much reminding.  When I show her how to practice something or instruct her to play it five times perfectly, you can pretty much guarantee she will do it.  She is a responsible, perfectionist first born.

Lydia usually has either tears or a big smile when practicing.  She usually needs reminding to practice the hard stuff.  These are common Lydia practicing comments:  "I"ll never be able to play this."  "This song was not made for me."  Then she may hide under the piano bench, crying.  The thing about Lydia is that academic or musical tasks really are not that difficult for her.  If she just applies herself a little bit, she gets it.  Then when she does get it, everything is great.  She is an emotional, dramatic, really high or really low girl.  

Anna mostly gets mad if she can't play something.  She doesn't cry, just yells.  She loves the recitals, and relishes her turn to march up in front of everyone and show her stuff.  She is our social, give me some attention, middle child with a temper.  

I love each of those girls for their individuality.  It makes life fun.  

Sunday, January 26, 2014

January 26, 2014

"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.  Serve the Lord with gladness:  come before his presence with singing.  Know ye that the Lord he is God:  it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.  Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise:  be thankful unto him, and bless his name.  For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations."
***Psalm 100

Serve the Lord with gladness!
How do I serve the Lord in these days?  By serving my husband and children, the precious souls the Lord has entrusted to my care.  How do I serve them?  Making delicious food, laundering their clothes, reading to them, teaching them, giving hugs and kisses, providing a listening ear, setting an atmosphere of calm through a clean house.  With gladness!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

January 25, 2014

I spent much of today planning for the week ahead.  The happiness and effectiveness of our days depends in large part on the preparation put in to it.  I simply cannot fly by the seat of my pants for meals, laundry, school, and keeping the house and family running.  It all begins with me.  The mental energy and heart attitude I put in to setting the tone is worth it.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The one year old


Julia is in the throws of "oneyearhood" (cue scary music).  She is eighteen months today.  For me, from about 12-30 months are the most difficult parenting months.  The child is old enough to exert their will with amazing force and is insatiably curious, but is not old enough to completely reason or communicate.
This picture clearly illustrates pure oneness.  While getting supper ready, she emptied out one of the pasta boxes from the pantry.  Therein lies the conundrum.  It kept her busy for a little while, but of course resulted in a mess.  And look at her joyful face.  How is a mother suppose to resist?  She provides endless entertainment, is constantly on the move, leaves a trail of destruction behind her, and demands everyone be at her beck and call.  It is completely exhausting.  Yet she is adored and loved beyond measure.  She is our baby, and she is one.  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Girls of Virtue

   
     One of our activities we're involved in that I love the most is "Girls of Virtue."   Almost two years ago my friend Kristen threw out the idea of forming an old fashioned girls club.  She was looking for like minded families with girls in the 4th to 6th grade range.  It would involve meeting once a month at the different members' homes.  The girls would all read the same book for the month, and then have a discussion and Bible study.  Part of the aim of the group is for the girls to learn hosting skills.  So, the girl is responsible to get invitations out, help prepare food, get the house ready, and plan with the mom.  Mom is in charge of leading a Bible study, book discussion, and "activity."  There are eight girls in the group, and it has been a delight.  Madeline looks forward to it every month.  I love that she is developing friendships with young ladies that are heading in the same direction.



     Yesterday was our turn to host Girls of Virtue.  We talked about love, looking at Matthew 22:36-40, 1 John 4:7-21, and 1 Corinthians.  We discussed why we are to love others and what love actually encompasses.  Although it was nothing new, loving others has been something that has been on my mind lately and is always a good reminder.  Plus, it led right in to our book discussion.  Madeline made a delicious apple cake with caramel glaze.  We also served crackers and cheese, and drank hot apple cider. Then we made a "love" banner.  



Monday, January 20, 2014

Some random trip musings


  • If you think Duck Dynasty is entertaining, watch it in Spanish!  The voice over is hilarious.
  • Mark forgot sunglasses.  He bought a cheap pair of sunglasses at the airport.  The plastic broke in more than one spot after being in the sun for a few hours.  They literally fell apart.  Then he bought a not so cheap pair from the hotel gift shop.  They broke in our bag after the second day.  I would not let him buy any more.  
  • We flew first class between Dallas and Cancun.  Mark used frequent flier points to upgrade us.  I'm not gonna lie, it was awesome.  They serve warm mixed nuts.  This was a game changer for us.  It looked like they just warmer them up in an aluminum foil pan.  It doesn't seem like a big deal, but oh they tasted good.  The heat accentuates the flavor and smell.  While I did feel like a jerk when the coach class people were walking by and staring at us, I got over that as I stretched my legs and the warm nuts were served.  
  • People watching at the beach does not disappoint.  One observation:  we could count on one hand the number of women we saw with a non bikini suit.  
  • While we were not the most social people on this trip, the people that we did meet were from the Midwest.  Which leads to the question, are there more Midwesterners visiting warm climates in the winter because of their frigid home weather versus southerners or Californians?  Are Midwesterners more friendly?  Or are we obviously Midwesterners and attract our own kind?
  • The girls did great at Baka and Grandma's house.  I hate living (relatively) far away from family every time I pack us up to go, get back and have mountains of laundry to take care of, or am turning around in the van to retrieve dropped books.  I wish we could visit our family just for an afternoon.  But, there are benefits to being away.  In many ways you get to know your family better when you have to stay over night in their house with them.  I think Baka, Grandma, and Uncle Danny really got to know the girls this week in a way that they could not have from afternoon visits.  
  • We did a good job of applying sunscreen the first half of the week.  I did not want to be sunburned for my massage.  On Thursday it was cloudy in the morning, so we decided to forego sunscreen.  Rookie mistake.  We were fried.  

Sunday, January 19, 2014

We're back!

We returned to Nebraska yesterday.  I feel rested, rejuvenated, and ready to charge back to real life.  
While it was a fabulous vacation with my husband, there is really not a lot to tell.  We laid by the pool, laid on the beach, back to the pool, back to the beach, and so on.  Oh, and we got a massage at the spa.  I, the introvert, am perfectly happy relaxing in the quiet.  Mark, the extrovert, did a good job of hanging in there with me.  One morning Mark said, "Let's get going.  Enough laying in bed.  We can do that at home."  I retorted, "No we can't!"
The water was the beautiful Caribbean blue.  The beach was a sandy tan.  The sun was warm.  I don't have many pictures to commemorate our time away, but what I do have sums it up...




Saturday, January 11, 2014

January 11, 2014

Today we are dropping off the girls at grandparents.  We also got to make a quick visit to Chris, Aliza, and the boys.  We are ever grateful for our family.  Both sides, from parents, to siblings, to nieces and nephews, we are blessed.

Friday, January 10, 2014

January 10, 2014

Julia woke up with no fever today.  The world looks a whole lot brighter.
     Tomorrow we drive to Iowa to drop the girls off with Mark's parents.  We fly out of Des Moines on Sunday for a getaway to Cancun.  We have never been on a "lay on the beach and do nothing" trip.  It has never sounded that appealing to us when there are so many amazing things to see and do in the world.  But, we are both ready for some rest. 
     When I asked the girls if they knew why Mommy and Daddy are going on a trip just the two of us, they replied that we need to rest.  I was kind of surprised by their answer.  I didn't know what they thought of our getting away.  But their intuitive child minds see the need for rest and recuperation.  I told them it is also because Mommy and Daddy need to reconnect as friends.  This family began as just Mark and Erica.  In not so many years it will be just Mark and Erica in this house again.  In the meantime, we have a full house, joy, stress, decisions, mundane work, and busyness.  While we feel united in our vision of living life together I believe it is important to reconnect apart from our everyday life as friends.  I am hoping to fill my cup with sun, beautiful water, good books, delicious food, sleep, and time with my best friend.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Nicknames

Madeline:  Matilda, Madelino
Lydia:  LuLu, Dydi Deba, Lydi
Anna:  Anna Bellers, Annie
Cora:  Cora-Elizabeth-Big Sister-Gretel-Scheve
Julia:  Jules, Toodles

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

January 7, 2014

After another day of Julia's high temperatures, I'm feeling a little frazzled.  But, here is what I'm grateful for...
  • That Julia is sick this week and not next.  We are leaving on Saturday to drop the girls off at Mark's parents so Mark and I can head to Cancun for a few days (woot woot!).  Earlier I was frustrated that we are encountering this sickness right before we leave.  Kids make you earn your time off, ya know?  But then I decided that I would rather Julia is sick this week, when she has her Mommy.  The older girls can handle being sick away from Mommy much better than Julia could.  They can lay on the couch and be miserable but not cry and cling to me.  So really this is perfect timing.
  • That I have a husband who works hard so that I can stay home and cuddle our sick kids.
  • That what we are experiencing sickness wise is not life threatening.  We have friends who have very sick kids.  I really don't know how they do it.  I'm sure that when you are dealing with it, you just put one step in front of the other to get through.  It sure makes me appreciate and not take for granted the good health that we do have.  I have a deep admiration, respect, and heaviness for parents who face very difficult health scenarios with their kids.  
  • That I get the opportunity to witness my older girls love on their little sister.  I can pass Julia over to one of her big sisters for a few minutes while I run around picking up, throwing food together, going to the bathroom.  They do their best to console Julia and make her content as they hold her.  They are endlessly bringing her books to look at or trying to make her smile with their chatter.  When we returned from the doctor, their concern for her was obvious as they eagerly wanted to know what was wrong with her.  
  • That even when my plans fail, God's plans don't.  

Monday, January 6, 2014

January 6, 2014

After spending the day yesterday planning for the semester, today was the day to jump back in to our schedule.  Hit the books.  Get things done.  Be productive.
Then, today came.  Julia has had a high fever.  Instead, I spent the day holding and caring for my baby. That is the homeschool life.  It is a school.  But first it is a home.  

Sunday, January 5, 2014

January 5, 2014

Although there is a wind chill warning tonight, I have to say that I like the seasons.  Christmas decorations are down.  I've been planning for the next 4 months of school.  It feels good to have some change.  It would be boring to always have perfect weather, right?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

And Christmas is over.

The girls finally opened our Christmas presents today.  I'm not a meanie.  But, we are gone for the entire Christmas week and arrive at home loaded with new toys and gadgets to put away from grandparents and aunts and uncles.  I don't think anyone goes overboard with presents.  It is just that by the time you celebrate with two families and have five kids we are tired, happy, and have plenty of new stuff to play with.  If we open our presents before we go it seems early and rushed.  If we open right when we get home, it loses a little sparkle because we are a little Christmased out.  So I thought we would give ourselves a little space this year before we did our family presents.  I think it worked out great.  The girls were excited to open, and seem to appreciate it a little more than normal.  We were planning on opening tomorrow, the day the church celebrates Epiphany.  Then I realized that we leave this coming Saturday for vacation.  When I began to think of everything that needed to happen before then my heart rate started to rise.  So we opened today.
The girls each get a frankincense (spiritual), myrrh (body), and gold (fun, extravagant) gift.  I love watching them open their gifts.  We got enthusiastic reactions all the way around.  





Their gifts...
Madeline:  Hudson Taylor biography, gloves and hat, Nerf bow and arrow
Lydia:  Christian allegory book, comforter, bike
Anna:  What's in the Bible #4 DVD, sparkly boots, play mailbox
Cora:  What's in the Bible #3 DVD, pink purse, chef dress up clothes

Friday, January 3, 2014

January 3, 2014

We took advantage of our break week and headed to the Children's Museum.  Unfortunately, everyone else in Lincoln had the same idea.  When you are accustomed to visiting during the middle of the week when school is in session and you have the place to yourself, it is a bummer when the museum is swarming with kids.  But, we still had fun!





Julia was not digging all the people there.  However, her cuteness today made up for her timidity.  Her darling polka dot cardi is from Grandma.  The adorable polka dot boots are from Nana.  And guess what?  They squeak!  The little tummy and tush sticking out are from God.  There is nothing cuter than a toddler in leggings; unless they are paired with a polka dot cardi and boots.   






Thursday, January 2, 2014

January 2, 2014

One of my new year's resolutions is to write something on my blog every single day.  
I often get paralyzed by perfection.  In future years I know that I will regret not keeping a more accurate history of what our family life consists of.  I know that these are some of the best years of our life, even amid the busyness and chaos.  I feel like we are filled to the brim, so pictures and documentation falls by the wayside.  It is my makeup that if I do something, I go all out and simply don't do things because I can't give it amy absolute all.  Because of this, I don't make baby books, blog, or do much of anything for a record of our life.  I don't feel guilt about this because I have come to accept that I can't do everything.  It is more of regret that I feel.  So, I am going to write something here every day.  It may only be one sentence.  It may only be one picture.  But, I'm hoping that it will give my girls and me a story to look back at.